Canadiens deal playoff hero Halak to the Blues Staff

6/18/2010 3:11:18 AM

The Montreal Canadiens let go of the goaltender who led them through their incredible postseason run and anointed Carey Price as their undisputed No. 1, as the club has traded Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues.

In return, the Habs received forwards Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

Halak, 25, spent the last four seasons with the Canadiens and shared the goaltending duties with Price after being called up from the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs in February of 2008. He made his NHL debut in place of injured goaltender Cristobal Huet during the 2006-07 season with a 10-6 record, 2.89 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

This past season, Halak's incredible play between the pipes led the Canadiens on a deep run into the playoffs before they were eliminated by the Flyers in the Eastern Conference final.

"Jaroslav's play in this year's regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs was remarkable," Blues president John Davidson said in a statement. "He has had very impressive numbers in the NHL and we are thrilled that he will be wearing the Bluenote for us."

Halak was 26-13-5 in 2009-10 for Montreal and ranked fourth in the NHL in save percentage (.924), ninth in goals against average (2.40) and was tied for fifth with five shutouts. In his 26 wins this season he had a GAA of 1.68 and a save percentage of .948.

The 2009-10 Molson Cup winner as team MVP was 44-27-6 over the last two seasons in Montreal with a save percentage of .924 and a GAA of 2.59. Halak also led Slovakia to a fourth-place finish at the Winter Olympics which included a 2-1 upset of Russia.

The native of Slovakia, drafted 271st overall by Montreal in 2003, will become a restricted free agent in July and is eligible for salary arbitration. Halak earned $800,000 US last season.

Eller, 21, suited for seven games with the Blues in 2009-10, scoring twice. He played with the Blues' AHL affiliate in Peoria last season where he tallied 57 points in 70 games. The Danish forward, who also played in the American Hockey League All-Star Game, finished 9th in the AHL with 22 powerplay assists.

A native of Herlev, in Denmark, Eller was a first round selection, 13th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2007 draft.

Schultz, 20, played in 2009-10 with the Calgary Hitmen, tallying 55 points in 70 games with 150 penalty minutes. He's the younger brother of Washington Capitals defenceman Jeff Schultz.

Price, who was 13-20-5 with a 2.77 average and a .912 save percentage, is now all but assured to be the team's top starter. The Anahim Lake, B.C., native was drafted fifth overall in 2005 but has struggled to find consistency at the NHL level.